AN INCOMPLETE HISTORY OF BREWIN’ – PART TWO
So where was I? Ah yes I was telling you about who I am, well at least in terms of my history. Why am I doing this? Well aside from it helping you to understand my works I’m promoting through this site (and hopefully being an entertaining read!) it also helps you understand who I am. Which is in short, a freak haha…
A “limited” edition version of the cover for one of my books; limited to one copy!
I can actually recall thinking at the age of eight that I wasn’t remotely like anyone else and that what’s more, I didn’t want to be. Being “normal” or “like others” seemed so boring, the internal universe I predominantly lived in creating stories and games in my head, was so much more interesting… And in many ways, I haven’t really changed; I’m still the kid wrapped up in his world creating stuff, it’s just that I’m starting to release some of it now.
But rather than attempting to qualify the above statements much for now (that can come later maybe if there’s sufficient interest), I’ll just tell you about some of the cool stuff I’ve created over the years and post some interesting pictures:
This is a review of one of the more popular games I made (in the style of the Zzap 64 magazine) from 1989… It featured robot ninjas!
My childhood, like my life, was anything but normal. By the time I was eight, I was devouring gamebooks and role playing games and had started to write my own. Before I turned eleven at the end of 1985, I was running RPG, gamebook and “creepy-crawly” clubs, had written many stories (some over a hundred pages long albeit smaller pages than a typical book), gamebooks, games, club magazines and was selling and distributing them.
Here’s a club magazine issue from 1985 listing some of the stuff I’d written by that stage:
One of my first clubs (written on whatever paper was handy at the time) with a list of the gamebooks I had available to club members. Buggered if I can remember what C-D-M-F-C-C-D-M-F-C-D stood for though.
And here’s another club magazine from early 1986. By this time I’d renamed the club to the “Creatures and Characters Club” after my own RPG (C&C for short) that was essentially a Fighting Fantasy rip-off with a few extra stats and rules. I was still using the same crappy paper, but now had puffy holographic stickers and featured others’ artwork.
The club was growing in members and it looks like I increased my prices a bit too haha.
By the end of 1986 (when I finished primary school) my club was simply known as “Brewin’s RPG club”. I was spending my free time churning out game after game, running them and various clubs. I was supposed to be doing homework I suppose, playing sport or watching TV, but these never really appealed much haha. The same tendency continued through high school and university after that; I always seemed to excel in school despite doing bugger all work as I was always making and playing games. I’d regularly win the school writing, science and maths competitions, but was rarely on time to school, typically hadn’t done my homework and often forgot to even bring my books or lost things; my mind was usually elsewhere. In year eight (1988) for instance I think it was, I was allocated an “organisation diary” that was specifically created for me. In this diary I was scored up to three ticks for each class; one for having made the class on time, one for having brought my books, and one for having done by homework. The aim was to go a whole day where I got all ticks for all classes… And I never did. And I guess I never learned to change; despite the frequent warnings of whoever was currently teaching me; as I never really suffered the consequences of failure. I guess it only hardened in me a sense of being “different” and that “I was going to make the world different because I existed in it”. I was going to write games and books. My plan was to get a career as an entomologist (bugs being my other childhood passion and ambition; especially after realising that to study dinosaurs meant looking at bones in the ground) and use that to provide an income whilst I wrote. Not that it really panned out like that.
(My later magazine from 1988 was the most elaborate, featuring ratings and reviews, cheats, competitions, surveys, quizzes, advertisements, feature articles, stories, gamebooks and adventures)
During the years 1986-1990, I created about a hundred games and came to establish my own terms to define them, as I was aware of no parallels “out in the world”. Board games and pencil-and-paper role playing games I collectively termed “Material RPGs” as they relied on paper-based materials. These are the ones I created the least of during this period. The ones that I spent most of my time creating were what I called “Miniature RPGs” and “Physical RPGs”.
Here’s some of the “guts” of one of the last Miniature RPGs I made in 1990. This one took its original inspiration from the Double Dragon video game, but had a whole world to explore.
The so-called Miniature RPGs did include a couple of “table top games that grown adults play with miniatures, dice and turn based mechanics” but mostly they were something quite different. Miniature RPGs involved playing with a whole bunch of toys, where the player controlled the hero; be it a He-man plastic figure that was imagined to be an axe-wielding barbarian; a Hot Wheels matchbox car that was imagined to contain an agent on a quest to capture the bad guys; or a laser wielding robot shooting down all in its path. The game mechanics were typically that you held your hero in one hand and held a weapon in the fingertips of your other hand to simulate wielding the weapon, or if you were shooting something you just made the shooting sound with your mouth whilst pointing your hero/weapon where you were shooting. I as “Games-master” would adjudicate the game, including controlling the enemies you had to face and creating the “screens” for the game; that is the layout for each area of the game and how it behaves; just like in a computer game. The hero and all enemies they faced had parameters such as how fast they could move, how much damage they could take and how much damage they inflicted with each hit. It was basically applying rules and scenarios to playing with toys, and through this medium I was able to create many games comprising many different worlds. It was like producing a video game a week where you only needed the ideas and it was possible… Furthermore video games then didn’t have the same punch that they do now, so Miniatures RPGs were a viable alternative that I enjoyed creating and playing with friends.
The above pages are taken from a Physical RPG I made in 1988. Unlike most Physical RPGs I made, this one required recording stats on a character sheet, even though you spent the game running around my backyard pretending to shoot things. This particular one wasn’t very popular, but I mostly included it as it amused me to read of a game set in the near future, which happens to be 2012… Err now.
So-called Physical RPGs were essentially like what is now known as “Live Role Playing Games”. They typically involved the hero wielding melee weapons or guns, and battling enemies through the various “screens” that made up levels and worlds where each “screen” was the area of my backyard. Depending on the game, you progressed through the world to the next screen by touching the fence at the edge of the backyard in the direction you wished to travel. Melee combat was resolved by actual physical combat (barehanded or swinging weapons; which were typically long pieces of wood or whatever I could find to use). The only restrictions on combat were that you had to limit attacks to a certain speed that was deemed “safe” and that to land a hit, you only had to tap the opponent. Ranged combat was resolved in a more arbitrary fashion; like with the Miniature RPGs, it involved pointing your weapon and making a shooting sound with your mouth (or throwing tennis balls, bit of bark etc, to simulate things like grenades and shurikens). Having run these games for the better part of ten years, about the only injuries that were sustained were whacks on knuckles or occasionally falling over or off the trampoline (yes some were set on a trampoline where each “screen” was the trampoline area). Again I was almost always the GM (since the overwhelming majority of the games were ones I’d made) and some could have two players at once; I reckon I got pretty good at martial combat during this time from always doing battle in these games haha.
Not all of the Physical RPGs I ran were limited to my backyard or trampoline. Here’s a report for instance of an event I called a “Melee” where teams spent the day roaming the parkland and bike track nearby to my house in Geelong where I lived at the time. I think I sported a bright yellow mohawk for this one for the sheer hell of it.
I ran a few Melees down at the nearby parkland which had a creek running through the middle of it; setting the scene for a number of memorable river battles. (One featured a friend Paul; clad in two pairs of jeans, three jumpers and a balaclava to simulate wearing plate armour; actually swimming across the creek with a wooden shield strapped on one arm and a wooden sword in the other, in order to evade his attackers. We were all quite surprised that he was game to do that haha). I even ran “fantasy adventures” where a team of adventurers (of differing classes and races just like in Dungeons and Dragons) roamed the parkland, whilst I and others played the role of monsters etc. Speed rules tended to go out the window in these games as I was often not near the fighting to adjudicate. Amazingly perhaps, no one ever really got hurt and nor did we ever get in trouble for “civil disruption” haha.
I did make some effort to catalog my games and have them rated by myself and others, always looking to improve and push the boundaries of ideas… I guess I’ve always loved stats too :)
And yes I kept hi-scores tables for many of the games I did… Haven’t you gotten the point that I’m a freak yet?
Looking back it feels like that in some ways, the end of 1990 was the end of this period of “innocence”. By now, my friends and I were about 16, and it wasn’t “cool” to be seen playing with toys making pew pew noises or running around the park waving planks of wood anymore. But really, I’d like to think it was because I was turning my attention to other things; namely “Material” RPGs and writing for publication… Oh and apparently doing the last couple of years of high school too haha. But I’ll leave that for a later blog when I get around to it. (I’m thinking my next blog will be on the much more recent Infinite Universe release though and the design process behind that, so Part 3 of my history will be a little way off).
EDIT: You may notice that the images are bit dodgy. I did fiddle with them a bit, but gave up once I realised I'd probably have to redo the images from scratch if I really wanted to fix them up. We'll move on (since I've already spent way longer on this post that I meant to haha) and put it down to a "learning experience" ;)
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So when do we get to read about Chuck Billy and The Royal?
Nah dude...ahh y'know....Good effort in doing this. Very enjoyable read. Have you ever thought about writing for a living